The taxonomic status of the Chemeron temporal (KNM-BC 1)

J Hum Evol. Jan-Feb 2002;42(1-2):153-84. doi: 10.1006/jhev.2000.0409.


Temporal bone morphology, as part of the basicranium, is commonly used in systematic evaluation of early hominid fossils. When an isolated right temporal bone, KNM-BC 1 (the Chemeron temporal) was discovered in the Baringo Basin, Kenya, Tobias (1967 a, Nature215, 476-480), citing ambiguity of characters, hesitated to place the specimen generically, attributing the fossil only to Hominidae gen. et sp. indet. Since that discovery, the early hominid sample has grown considerably and comparisons with this expanded dataset led Hill et al. (1992 a, Nature355, 719-722) to revise the placement of KNM-BC 1 including it within the genus Homo. This revision was possible due to the increased number of hominid fossil specimens from the late Pliocene/early Pleistocene, most notably members of the genus Homo. A thorough investigation into the utility of the temporal bone in hominid systematics shows that many features, as currently used in the literature, demonstrate high levels of variation thus questioning their phyletic valence. It is shown, however, that the temporal bone still contains useful systematic information. A detailed anatomical description of KNM-BC 1 is provided and, when discussed in the context of temporal bone features provided, affirms the conclusion of Hill et al. (1992 a) and places the fossil within the genus Homo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anthropology, Physical
  • Fossils*
  • Hominidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Hominidae / classification
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Phylogeny
  • Radiography
  • Temporal Bone / anatomy & histology*
  • Temporal Bone / diagnostic imaging